Connect with us

Entrepreneurship

Rajesh Krisnan, Founder of Perfect Home Solutions

Published

on

Rajesh Krisnan is 41, hailing from a middle class family in India. He lives with his wife and two children in Bangalore. Rajesh is keen in innovating and passionate about change. He started out his career as a scientist and engineer in the biomedical field, initially developing glucose sensors for people with diabetes.

Rajesh later moved on to commercial roles in the same area and have spent almost half my career in marketing new technologies to the consumer and healthcare markets. His career has exposed him to all aspects of a product life cycle in the medical technology space. He has primarily worked in start-ups and understand what it takes to build a great company. His education started with B.Tech in chemical engineering from IT-BHU (1994) after which Rajesh did his Master of Science at University of New Mexico and later graduated with an MBA from University of California-Berkeley (2005).

Currently, Rajesh is running his own venture, PerfectHome Solutions, dedicated to creating innovative solutions that will improve quality of life indoors. When he is not working, he spends a lot of time with his family and watching his children grow.

The Asian Entrepreneur has the privelege of speaking to Rajesh today about his work.

211

What exactly is HighrisWhat exactly is Perfect Home Solutions?

Perfect Home Solutions is a venture dedicated towards delivering innovative solutions for quality-of-life related gaps indoors. We believe that solutions for problems that improve health and lifestyle simultaneously will ultimately contribute to better quality of life. We focus on making our products and solutions simple and easy to use. We currently make and sell Cactus moisture absorber, a product for home use through modern retail chains. This category of products is designed to provide a preventive solution for moisture related damages like the formation of fungus and mould in homes; pervasive damp and musty smells in bathrooms, kitchens and lofts.

How did you come up with the idea of Perfect Home Solutions?

After moving to our apartment in Bangalore, my wife had to painfully clean up a nasty mould infestation and even get rid of articles that were mould-ridden. She was getting tired of cleaning indoors frequently to get rid of the nuisance.

So, in 2011, we decided to start the company. We figured that everyone must be going through this at least once, if not more. It is just an unspoken problem that is ignored or taken care of by frequent cleaning whose effectiveness is questionable and short-lived. Since both of us have a healthcare background, we sometimes wonder if allergies in our son could have been triggered by floating moisture and mould indoors at that time.

We initially solved the issue by placing many sachets of silica gel throughout the house. That helped a lot and she didn’t have to clean so often and our stored articles were not being damaged any more. Plus, the smells were not there anymore. Start ups have been my entire career and I like working for small companies. While starting a venture from ground up has been a dream, it is also exciting and there was an opportunity that was presented to us.

How has it been like managing the business since?

The company was started in June 2011. It has been exciting and challenging. It is always exciting to do something from scratch and see it get a shape and grow. The challenges are multi-fold. It certainly seems like the wrong age to become an entrepreneur. Without an income, it takes a toll on the entire family. It is something I and my family reconcile every day. I am lucky to have their support. Doing business in India where product innovation is a rarity presents a challenge.

I sell my products through the fmcg channels of modern retail trade and it is something that keeps me up all night in figuring out how to make this category into mainstream one.

While people have a lot more exposure to and acceptance of new products and solutions, this will certainly not be a cake walk. I manage all aspects of the business from manufacturing to selling and marketing, customer care and there is not a single day where I have not learned something new and often I learn about myself to top it all. The most difficult thing is running the company on pretty much zero cash and a payment cycle that slows you down. With growing business, hopefully this will change. Emotionally, the journey has been stressful and fun at the same time.

Did you find anything particularly difficult during the startup? How did you overcome it?

The single most difficult thing is funding. Most often startups fold because they run out of cash. It is absolutely true and you have to be highly disciplined. Every day is pretty much about survival. Organized investors are few in number for start up ventures and investments are fewer. So, we rotate our cash to grow the business and it severely hampers the speed. In my opinion, more than money, the right investing partner will also bring in connections that will catalyze the growth of the firm. While there are no solutions until funding comes through, I have to be creative on how to stretch every dollar. Beg, borrow, do what it takes.

How was the initial reaction from the consumers?

The reaction has been very positive. When the solution is explained, there is a light bulb that goes on in the mind of the customers. The problem of moisture and the damages related to it are things that most home makers have been living with and taking care of in many different ways including ignoring it. Most often the reaction upon hearing about the product is a “wow” and the satisfaction that someone is solving a problem. In fact, before deciding to take a deep plunge into the venture, I first sold silica gel to residential apartments as a validation to gauge the need for the product and saw that there was a need. The speed of growth of the category is going to be dependent on being able to educate and create an awareness of the product and category.

Do you face a lot of competition in this industry? What is your strategy against your competition?

Fmcg business is fraught with competition. Marketers scramble to latch on to small parts of customer perceptions to position their brands. However, given this is a new category, competition is limited. PHS is the only indigenous manufacturer of this category for the consumer market. However, there are a couple of players who import their products. PHS will continue to differentiate by being innovative and innovating fast. Both are crucial to set us apart in this market.

What can you tell us about the industry? Have you developed any industry insights that you could share?

Air care is a category that is seeing a lot of growth in the FMCG space and we want to capitalize that on that growth curve. Dabur and Godrej report 25%+ growth in air care which includes air fresheners, fragrance sprays and diffusers etc. In the fmcg value chain, the retailers are at the top of the pyramid and enjoy a lot of market power and so does the consumer. Consumer purchasing behavior is continuously evolving with evolving lifestyle, urban developments and so on. This industry while being very attractive is seeing and going to see a lot of change and only those who hold a steadfast focus on the consumer will survive.

How have you managed to stay relevant in this industry?

Being a new entrant is both exciting and risky and it is imperative that we stay relevant. We have no cashcows to rely on while we jettison the not-so-relevant. Our product SKUs are carefully picked and designed to suit the use-scenarios of the end user. We have a pipeline of ideas that will further strengthen our offerings and stay relevant. Our current products came into existence after discovering a gap in urban lifestyle that was dying for a solution. So, we believe and hope that we are relevant.

What are your future plans for Perfect Home Solutions?

Although we started the company with a single product, the idea behind the venture is to become an entity that delivers innovative and relevant solutions (products or services or a combination) that can fill gaps that affect quality of life. We are interested primarily in theintersection of health and lifestyle where we believe there are number of gaps which require solution be it quality of air or water so on. There is room in both consumer and institutional markets. We have product ideas in dust control and air quality as a whole. We believe that the Indian market will continue to be price sensitive as always. So our ability to make things locally will be an advantage both from a cost perspective and being able to deliver what they need.

If you could start all over again, would you change anything about your approach? If so, what?

Hindsight is always 20/20. But I would spend less and try to be more cost effective when it comes to commercialization related expenditure.

What do you think about startups in Asia?

I am not an expert in Asian market. From an Indian perspective, the so-called ecosystem is in its infancy. There is a lot that is yet to be accomplished. It is a great time for startups in the hitech spaces like mobile, cloud etc. However, the country as a whole can benefit from the ecosystem including manufacturing sector. It is imperative that India sees a balanced growth so that it sees a sustainable growth and has a chance to close the wealth gap. I believe startups can play a major role in this.

What are some personal principles or personal values that guide you and your career?

Integrity is high on the list. Appreciation for the human value chain. Doing what you like or at least something where you can partially park your heart.

What is your definition of success?

Being able to control the means and the end.

Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?

I have always been in small set ups. I like it and wanted to continue that. Plus, it gives a good chance to try and hit it big. Got to try!

In your opinion, what are the keys to entrepreneurial success?

It takes hard work, time and luck. Don’t hesitate for anything. Ask for help and take help. Shed shame. Develop a thick skin.

Connect:
Website: www.perfecthomesolutions.in
b: www.facebook.com/Cactus.Mooisture.Absorbers

Callum Connects

Malcolm Tan, Founder of Gravitas Holdings

Published

on

Malcolm Tan is an ICO/ITO and Cryptocurrency advisor. He sees this new era as similar to when the internet launched.

What’s your story?
I’m a lawyer entrepreneur who owns multiple businesses, and who is now stepping into the Initial Coin Offering/Initial Token Offering/Cryptocurrency space to be a thought leader, writer (How to ICO/ITO in Singapore – A Regulatory and Compliance Viewpoint on Initial Coin Offering and Initial Token Offering in Singapore), and advisor through Gravitas Holdings – an ICO Advisory company. We are also running our own ICO campaign called AEXON, and advising 2 other ICO’s on their projects.

What excites you most about your industry?
It is the start of a whole new paradigm, and it is like being at the start of the internet era all over again. We have a chance to influence and shape the industry over the next decade and beyond and lead the paradigm shift.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’m Singaporean and most of my business revolves around the ASEAN region. Our new ICO advisory company specialises in Singaporean ICO’s and we are now building partnerships around the region as well. One of the core business offerings of our AEXON ICO/ITO is to open up co-working spaces around the region, with a target to open 25 outlets, and perhaps more thereafter.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore, since it is my hometown and most of my business contacts originate from or are located in Singapore. It is also a very open and easy place to do business.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Be careful of your clients – sometimes they can be your worst enemies. This is very true and you have to always be careful about whom you deal with. The closest people are the ones that you trust and sometimes they have other agendas or simply don’t tell you the truth or whole story and that can easily put one in a very disadvantageous position.

Who inspires you?
Leonardo Da Vinci as a polymath and genius and leader in many fields, and in today’s world, Elon Musk for being a polymath and risk taker and energetic business leader.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Early stage bitcoin investors would have made 1,000,000 times profit if they had held onto their bitcoins from the start to today – in the short space of 7 years.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Seek out good partnerships and networks from day one, and use the power of the group to grow and do things together, instead of being bogged down by operations and going it alone from start.

How do you unwind?
I hardly have any time for relaxation right now. I used to have very intense hobbies, chess when I was younger, bridge, bowling, some online real time strategy games and poker. All mentally stimulating games and requiring focus – I did all these at competitive levels and participated in national and international tournaments, winning multiple trophies, medals and awards in most of these fields.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Phuket – nature, resort life, beaches, good food and a vibrant crowd.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Rich Dad Poor Dad by Richard Kiyosaki

Shameless plug for your business:
Gravitas Holdings (Pte) Limited is the premier ICO Advisory company and we can do a full service for entrepreneurs, including legal and compliance, smart contracts and token creation, marketing and PR, and business advisory and white paper writing/planning.

How can people connect with you?
Write emails to [email protected], or [email protected]

Twitter handle?
@malcolmABM

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

Continue Reading

Entrepreneurship

Women on Top in Tech – Pam Weber, Chief Marketing Officer at 99Designs

Published

on

(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)

Pam Webber is Chief Marketing Officer at 99designs, where she heads up the global marketing team responsible for acquisition, through growth marketing and traditional marketing levers, and increasing lifetime value of customers. She is passionate about using data to derive customer insights and finding “aha moments” that impact strategic direction. Pam brings a host of first-hand startup marketing experiences as an e-commerce entrepreneur herself and as the first marketing leader for many fast-growing startups. Prior to joining 99designs, she founded weeDECOR, an e-commerce company selling custom wall decals for kids’ rooms. She also worked as an executive marketing consultant at notable startups including True&Co, an e-commerce startup specializing in women’s lingerie. Earlier in her career, Pam served in various business and marketing positions with eBay and its subsidiary, PayPal, Inc. A resident of San Francisco, Pam received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and MBA from Harvard Business School. Pam is a notable guest speaker for Venture Beat, The Next Web, Lean Startup, and Growth Hacking Forum, as well as an industry expert regularly quoted in Inc., CIO, Business News Daily, CMSwire, Smart Hustle, DIY Marketer, and various podcast and radio shows. You can follow her on Twitter at @pamwebber_sf.

What makes you do what you do?
My dad always told me make sure you choose a job you like because you’ll be doing it for a long time. I took that advice to heart and as I explored various roles over my career, I always stopped to check whether I was happy going to work every day – or at least most days :). That has guided me to the career I have in marketing today. I’m genuinely excited to go to work every day. I get to create, to analyze, to see the impact of my work. It’s very fulfilling.

How did you rise in the industry you are in?
I had a penchant for numbers and it helped me stand out in my field. This penchant became even more powerful when the Internet and digital marketing started to explode. There was a great need for marketers whose skills could span both the creative and the analytic aspects of marketing. I capitalized on that growth by bringing unique insight to the companies I worked with, well-supported with thoughtful analysis.

Why did you take on this role/start this startup?
I’m not sure this is relevant to my situation as I had been a marketing leader in various start-ups and companies. I took on the role at 99designs because I was excited by the global reach of the brand and the opportunity the company had to own the online design space. I especially liked the team as I felt they were good at heart.

The challenge I’ve faced in my time at 99designs is how do I evolve the team quickly and nimbly to address new challenges. The work we do now, is very different than the work we did a year ago and even the year before that. There is a fine line between staying focused on the goal ahead and being able to move quickly should that goal shift.

Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industry or did you look for one or how did that work?
There is no one I’ve sought out or worked with over my entire career as my “mentee” needs have changed so much over the years. There are many people who have helped me along the way. For example, one of my peers at eBay, who was quite experienced and skilled in marketing strategy and creative execution, taught me what was in a marketing plan and how to evaluate marketing assets. As I have risen to leadership positions over the years, I often reach out to similarly experienced colleagues for advice on how they handle situations.

How did you make a match if you and how did you end up being mentored by him?
I learned early in my career that it rarely hurts to ask for advice. So that is what I have done. Additionally, there are people that are known to be quite helpful and build a reputation for giving back to others in advisory work. Michael Dearing, of Harrison Metal and ex-eBay, is one of those people. I, as well as countless others, have asked him for advice and guidance through the years and he does his best to oblige. Finding mentorship is about intuiting who in your universe might be willing and whether you are up for asking for help.

That being said, generally, I have found, if you are eager to learn and be guided, people will respond to the outreach.

Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?
I generally look for a good attitude and inherent “smarts”. A good attitude can encompass anything from being willing to take on many different types of challenges to working well amongst differing personalities and perspectives. Smarts can be seen through how well someone’s done in their “passion areas” (i.e. areas where they have a keen interest in pursuing).

I try to hire those types of people because in smaller, fast-growing companies like many of the ones I’ve worked in, it’s more often than not about hiring flexible people as things move and change fast.

Once those people are on my team, I try to keep them challenged and engaged by making sure they have varying responsibilities. If I can’t give them growth in their current job or in the current company, I encourage them to seek growth opportunities elsewhere. I’d rather have one of my stars leave for a better growth opportunity than keep them in a role where they might grow stale.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?
I consciously support diversity. When I am hiring, I am constantly thinking about how to balance the team with as broad a range as possible of skill sets, perspectives, etc. to ensure we can take on whatever is thrown at us, or whatever we want to go after.

What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?
I’m going to assume a great leader in my industry to mean a marketing leader in a technology company. I think a great leader in this industry is not afraid to learn new tricks no matter their age – it’s the growth mindset you may have heard about. I have a friend who inspires me to do this – she purchased the Apple Watch as soon as it was available, and was one of the first people I knew to use the Nest heating/cooling system. She’s not an early adopter by most definitions, but she adopts the growth mindset. This is the mindset I, too, have sought to adopt. In my field of marketing, it most recently has meant learning about Growth Marketing and how to apply this methodology to enhance growth. Independent of your industry, I think a growth mindset serves you well.

Advice for others?
I have been at 99designs for 3.5 years. During that time we’ve invested in elevating the skills and quality of our designer community, we’ve rebranded to reflect this higher level of quality, and have improved the satisfaction of our customers. Our next phase of growth will come from better matching clients to the right designer and expanding the ability to work with a designer one-on-one. We have the best platform to find, collaborate, and pay professional designers who deliver high quality design at an affordable price, and it’s only going to get better. I’m excited to deliver on that vision.

Pam Webber
Chief Marketing Officer of 99designs
Twitter: @pamwebber_sf

Continue Reading

Trending